Supercheap Auto Racing's Tim Slade has spoken honestly about the frustration he feels at being the best credentialed racer on the V8 Supercars grid without a win.
Slade, who turns 29 next month, has now faced the starter at 77 Championship events since his full-time career in Australia's number one motorsport category began in 2009, but so far boasts a best finish of second, which he has achieved three times.
His career was on a steady upward trajectory through his first four seasons, culminating in fifth place in the Championship in 2012 for Stone Brothers Racing. But last year was difficult and disappointing as SBR transformed into Erebus Motorsport.
This year he has made the shift to the regenerating Walkinshaw Racing squad and the SCAR Holden Commodore VF.
There have been flashes of real pace, such as a podium at the Winton 400 and a front row qualifying position at the ITM 500 Auckland. But there have also been disappointments too and he runs 16th in the Championship.
Slade has had to watch as rookies Scott McLaughlin and Chaz Mostert broke through for their first wins in 2013 and followed up this year. Other first time winners since his V8 Supercars career began have included David Reynolds, Fabian Coulthard, James Moffat, Shane van Gisbergen and his rookie Walkinshaw Racing teammate Nick Percat, who won the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 with Garth Tander even before he joined the Championship full-time this year.
"I was at an autograph session with a V8 Supercars poster with everyone's helmets on there, or faces or whatever, and I worked out who has won races and who hasn't and that pissed me off then when I worked that out," Slade admitted to v8supercars.com.au. "It does frustrate me.
"I don't let it get to me when I am driving," he added. "I guess it's the game that we are in where there are so many things outside your control and you can't really get too upset and frustrated about it and let it get to you," he said.
"That's motor racing, you just have to roll with the punches and your time will come."
The omens are good for a result for Slade this weekend in the Castrol Townsville 500 - Driven by TAFE Queensland, as his engineer Terry Kerr was with his Pirtek Cup Enduro co-driver Tony D'Alberto when he posted sixth place last year and his SCAR Commodore, with Russell Ingall at the wheel, was fifth in the same 250km race.
Slade admitted that he and Kerr were struggling to get a setup to work consistently for the SCAR Commodore. It meant "a top 10 feels like a win". Slade delivered that in the second 100km in Darwin, finishing eighth after a brilliant start.
"You get closer to the mark and you think 'how easy is this'," Slade said. "It makes my job a hell of a lot easier when the car is closer to the mark," Slade said. "But it's hard for us to consistently be in the window. It feels like we are there one minute then we try something and then we are out of it."
Slade said the consistent performances of teammate James Courtney in the Holden Racing Team Commodore showed what can be achieved once he and Kerr fully adjust to their new surroundings and each other.
"JC has been working with his engineers for however long now and this is my first engineer with Terry and his first year in the team and the category is so competitive now and so close, you can't get away with not having the car the best it can be.
"We have seen that this year with even the benchmark teams."
Like the other WR entries, Slade benefitted from engine power upgrades for Darwin and is hoping that significant further improvements to the car will help him when they arrive. However, he admitted he wasn't sure what he would get when.
"There are a lot of things to come," he said. "But it is all just time, especially when a lot of those things are quite time consuming and when you have four cars it's hard to do, and we are fairly stretched for resources."